Robert Smith (American football)

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Robert Smith
No. 20, 26
Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1972-03-04) March 4, 1972 (age 42)
Place of birth: Euclid, Ohio
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school: Euclid (OH)
College: Ohio State
NFL Draft: 1993 / Round: 1 / Pick: 21
Debuted in 1993
Last played in 2000
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing Yards 6,818
Average 4.8
Touchdowns 32
Stats at NFL.com

Robert Scott Smith (born March 4, 1972) is a former American football running back who played with the Ohio State Buckeyes and later with the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL.

High school[edit]

While at Euclid High School, Smith became the first player to win Ohio's Mr. Football Award twice (in 1988 and 1989). As a junior, he gained 1,564 yards on 177 rushes (8.8 yards per carry) and averaged 31 yards on 10 punt returns. As a senior, he gained 2,042 yards on 203 carries and scored 31 touchdowns. During his Panthers' career, he rushed for a total of 5,038 yards on 548 carries with 67 touchdowns.[1]

College[edit]

Smith narrowed his college choices to the University of Miami, the University of Southern California, UCLA and Ohio State, choosing Ohio State. In his two seasons with the Buckeyes, Smith ran for a total of 1,945 yards. He led the Buckeyes in rushing in 1990 and 1992, with a personal-best 1,126 yards in 1990. He averaged 88.4 yards per game and rushed for 18 touchdowns.[2]

While in college, he openly criticized the Ohio State football staff for not allowing him to concentrate on academics, as he wanted to eventually attend medical school; he sat out the 1991 football season, switching to a track and field scholarship. For the Buckeyes' track team, he posted a personal-best time of 10.24 seconds in the 100 meters.[3][4] He seriously considered transferring to either USC or Stanford University to play football. But Ohio State coach John Cooper had kept the door open for Smith to return to the Buckeyes' football team, and Smith finally returned to play in 1992.[5]

NFL[edit]

Smith was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round (21st overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. Although he suffered from a number of ailments in his first few seasons, he finally broke through in 1997, gaining 1,266 yards. Smith's finest year as a pro came in the 2000 season, leading the NFC in rushing with 1,521 yards. He retired at the end of the season, despite being at the peak of his career.

In eight NFL seasons, Smith rushed for 6,818 yards and 32 touchdowns, along with 178 receptions for 1,292 yards and 6 touchdowns, and only fumbled nine times. He also returned 1 punt for 4 yards and 19 kickoffs for a total of 460 yards. Smith wore number 20 as a rookie in 1993, but switched to number 26 when it became available in 1994 and wore it until his retirement.

NFL stats[edit]

Rushing Stats[6]

Year Team Games Carries Yards Yards per Carry Longest Carry Touchdowns First Downs Fumbles Fumbles Lost
1993 MIN 10 82 399 4.9 26 2 19 0 0
1994 MIN 14 31 106 3.4 14 1 6 0 0
1995 MIN 9 139 632 4.5 58 5 28 1 1
1996 MIN 8 162 692 4.3 57 3 25 2 1
1997 MIN 14 232 1,266 5.5 78 6 45 0 0
1998 MIN 14 249 1,187 4.8 74 6 46 1 1
1999 MIN 13 221 1,015 4.6 70 2 40 1 1
2000 MIN 16 295 1,521 5.2 72 7 63 4 1
Career 98 1,411 6,818 4.8 78 32 272 9 5

Receiving Stats[6]

Year Team Games Receptions Yards Yards per Reception Longest Reception Touchdowns First Downs Fumbles Fumbles Lost
1993 MIN 10 24 111 4.6 12 0 4 0 0
1994 MIN 14 15 105 7.0 15 0 7 0 0
1995 MIN 9 7 35 5.0 11 0 1 0 0
1996 MIN 8 7 39 5.6 16 0 1 0 0
1997 MIN 14 37 197 5.3 20 1 9 0 0
1998 MIN 14 28 291 10.4 67 2 12 0 0
1999 MIN 13 24 166 6.9 34 0 6 0 0
2000 MIN 16 36 348 9.7 53 3 15 0 0
Career 98 178 1,292 7.3 67 6 55 0 0

Records[edit]

NFL[edit]

  • Second all-time Minnesota Vikings record for career rushing yards (6,818). Passed by Adrian Peterson on September 9, 2012. The previous record was 5,887; which was set in 1979 by Chuck Foreman.[7]
  • Holds the all-time NFL record for average yards per touchdown run at 27.2

After retirement[edit]

Smith retired after only eight seasons in the NFL. He walked away from the game to pursue a career in medicine as well as to avoid any serious injuries. He has maintained a mostly private life since his retirement. He has appeared as a guest on the ESPN news program Outside the Lines, as well as on various ESPN programs alongside regulars Rece Davis, Mark May, and Lou Holtz. Smith also works on the NFL Network as an analyst and has appeared on The Score to discuss the NFL.

Smith founded the Robert Smith Foundation, a charity whose goal is to "provide financial and moral support for Children's hospitals and cancer research."

Smith made a cameo appearance in the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. He was in Season 8 Episode 3 The Mole People. He played a scantily clad, mute "hunk" given to Pearl (the series' antagonist) as a present by her minions.

2004 saw publication of Smith's book The Rest of the Iceberg: An Insider's View on the World of Sport and Celebrity. In it he discussed his background, his time at Ohio State and the NFL, and why he retired. He also analyzed the obsession placed on sports stars by the public.

Salon.com wrote in 2006 that Smith is an atheist.[8]

Smith is one of the amateur astronomers featured in science writer Timothy Ferris's 2007 PBS program, Seeing in the Dark, based on his 2002 book of the same name.

On November 1st, 2013, Smith openly admitted to fighting alcoholism during his playing career on ESPN during an interview on SportsCenter. Smith explained he sought counseling and has now been sober since the birth of his son, and that his family is his daily motivation to stay sober. He also appeared on ESPN's First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless talking about his stint as an alcoholic. [9]

References[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Carlos Snow
Ohio State Buckeyes
Starting Tailbacks
1990
Succeeded by
Carlos Snow
Preceded by
Carlos Snow
Ohio State Buckeyes
Starting Tailbacks
1992
Succeeded by
Raymont Harris